Annotated Bibliography (Psychotherapy and Neuroscience Research)

Enclosed are various research articles regarding the topics neuroscience and psychotherapy. Each article contains an annotation with an overview as well my opinion. The ultimate goal of this research is to integrate neuroscience, psychotherapy, and anarchism to create a new form of psychotherapy. It is my professional attempt to address modern problems of freedom and institutional violence, while simultaneously embracing current research within neuroscience. This is the beginning of what I call Neural Liberty Therapy, which is a form of therapy that draws from Dr. William Glasser’s Choice Theory psychology, and which I will employ for practical uses in the counselors office. Any help with interesting research, articles, and other ideas are welcome, as it is fundamental to our shared mission of spreading peace and freedom in our time.


Lewis, B. (1994). Psychotherapy, neuroscience, and philosophy of mind. American Journal Of Psychotherapy, 48(1), 85-93.

In this article, Bradley Lewis said that neuroscience does not necessarily have all the answers in terms of the psychotherapeutic process. He stated that many philosophers of mind and neuroscientists tend to think in terms of identity, which means that a theoretical construct or abstraction can be considered an isomorphism of a physical process. Thus, the brain is the mind and vice versa. Then, Bradley described the alternative views in philosophy of mind, that we harbor “essential human features.” These features are intentionality, consciousness, and free will. Intentionality is the idea that neural events have mental content. Consciousness is a more nebulous term, but it generally refers to self-awareness or subjectivity in humans. Bradley mentioned that the most important concept for psychotherapy is free will. Overall, the author maintained that psychotherapy cannot be entirely reduced to neuroscience due to lack completeness in theory and the humanness involved in the therapeutic process. This article was good because the author suggested that psychotherapy is important without necessarily relying on neuroscience. It was one of the few articles I researched that discussed philosophy as well as psychotherapy and neuroscience.

Cozolino, L. (2010). The Neuroscience of Psychotherapy. In The neuroscience of psychotherapy: Healing the social brain (2nd ed.). New York: W.W. Norton &.

In Chapter two of his book The Neuroscience of Psychotherapy, Dr. Louis Cozolino lucidly examined the neurological correlates of psychotherapy. Like Dan Siegel’s article, Cozolino started by highlighting the important of integration in neural circuitry. He explained the basic functioning of the brain and how neurons connect via the synapses. He said that these networks fire or light up in a mosaic or pattern referred to as “instantiation,” which are colored by the combination of our experiences, memories, fantasies, and thoughts. Fascinatingly, he also expressed how the nature versus nurture argument has already been demystified by neuroscience. In essence, humans have a basic genetic template, but frontal and executive brain functioning is formed as a result of experiences and environments. Cozolino, went on to explain that the implicit goal of the psychotherapeutic process is to activate neural networks. This allows new neural networks to form, and the brain to start re-building itself, which neuroscientists call neuroplasticity. This was a work of brilliance; I read this chapter three times. I recommend this book for anyone interested in the merger of neuroscience and psychotherapy. The book was intended for a technical and knowledgeable audience.

Cozolino, L. (2010). Neural Integration in Different Models of Psychotherapy. In The neuroscience of psychotherapy: Healing the social brain (2nd ed.). New York: W.W. Norton &.

In the chapter entitled “Neural Integration in Different Models of Psychotherapy,” Cozolino conducted a brief overview of the major theoretical orientations in psychotherapy and then discussed how they work together with basic principles of neuroscience to change the brain. First, he elaborated on psychodynamic approaches and explained that under the Freudian model, therapists help clients see defense mechanisms and other unconscious processes. What this does is spur integration between neural networks, resulting in the growth and development of the client. Next, Cozolino discussed the Rogerian, person-centered model. In discussing this model he mentioned the importance of the core conditions and the therapeutic alliance. He said that the therapeutic alliance could cause introspection and reflection in the client, which itself represents new experiences. Lastly, he mentioned the cognitive-behavioral models and exposure therapies. He proposed the idea that examination of thoughts and how thinking effects emotions also creates changes neurologically and helps a person develop. This chapter was the most important I read in Cozolino’s book. I wish the author would have gone into even more detail, though.

Dispenza, J. (2007). Neuroplasticity: How Knowledge and Experience Change and Evolve the Brain. In Evolve your brain: The science of changing your mind. Dearfield, FL: HealthCommunications.

In Dispenza’s book Evolve Your Brain, in the chapter over neuroplasticity, he elaborated on what is happening in brain on a cellular level. He provided the research and evidence that proves the existence of neuroplastic processes. One of the most important sections was the discussion of Hebbian learning. He explained that Donald Hebb was the researcher who first demonstrated how memories are stored in the brain through encoding, and how neurons that “fire together, wire together.” In line with the thesis of “Evolve your Brain,” Dispenza developed the idea that a person can change their thinking and feeling by spurring neuroplasticity. By having experiences and learning new knowledge the brain creates new synaptic connections, and continues to wire and re-wire throughout the lifespan. Overall, the chapter covered the evidence from neuroplasticity and the basic concepts behind memory formation and retrieval.

Dispenza is a chiropractor by trade, and most scholars would not consider this book a valid source for neurological research. Still, I saw no factual contradictions in the material. The book was extremely well-written.

Grosjean, B. (2005). From Synapse to Psychotherapy: The Fascinating Evolution of Neuroscience. American Journal of Psychotherapy, 59(3), 181-197.

In “From Synapse to Psychotherapy: The Fascinating Evolution of Neuroscience” author Bernadette Grosjean discussed how neuroscience has grown to encompass psychotherapy. She elucidated the mechanisms behind Hebbian neurological learning theories, attachment theories, trauma, and briefly how therapists should interact with clients with knowledge of neuroscience. When she discussed Hebbian ideas, she mentioned the importance of neuroplasticity in learning and she talked about both implicit and explicit memories. She mentioned that the process of learning and experiences affects neuroplasticity in the brain. Then, she tied this material together with studies on attachment. She finished the discussion with the stellar work of John Bowlby and how human children react to different attachment strategies. Lastly, in the section on trauma, she discussed how trauma occurs neurologically and how it can be, in theory, corrected by psychotherapy. Grosejean was way ahead of her time in helping to consolidate all the material in regards to neuroscience and psychotherapy. The articles strength was its discussion on attachment theory.

Kandel, E. (2001). Psychotherapy and the Single Synapse: The Impact of Psychiatric Thought on Neurobiological Research. Journal of Neuropsychiatry, 290-300.

Kandel’s exploration is a bit dated and technical, but it was a brilliant attempt to synthesize and understand how psychology, psychiatry and neurobiology could interact and combine. He began by discussing how disciplines and antidisciplines work together to broaden and deepen the way a “parent discipline” is viewed. In this case, the parent disciplines are psychiatry and psychology, and the antidiscipline is neurobiology. Kandel delved into several case studies and the showed biologic evidence that they brought to light. He looked at deprivation of animals and children and the biological and environmental consequences of isolating children early in life. As an example, he examined the famous study completed by Harlow on Rhesus monkeys. Next, Kandel examined memory and how habituation and sensitization occurs on a cellular level.

If anyone is going to study the connection between neuroscience and psychotherapy they must study Kandel. He helped clarify how memory encodes into neural circuitry. He even won a Nobel Prize for his work on memory.

Marlatt, L. (2014). The Neuropsychology behind Choice Theory: Five Basic Needs. International Journal of Choice Theory and Reality Therapy, XXXIV(1), 16-21.

In this International Journal of Choice Theory and Reality Therapy article, Libby Marlatt marshaled modern neuroscientific research to buttress Dr. William Glasser’s claims that people are genetically encoded to meet five basic needs. She began by describing the basic anatomy of the brain, and then she discussed how concepts like neuroplasticity and neurogenesis relate to Glasser’s assertions that people choose to meet their basic needs. She covered the brain science behind each of his needs: survival, love and belonging, power, freedom, and fun. In each section she showed what brain functions and regions evidence why humans attempt to meet these needs. Essentially, she clarified how new neuroscientific evidence fits within Glasser’s theory of human personality and functioning.

I chose this article because the author shared the same theoretical approach to me, but I felt like the article did not penetrate as deeply as it could into the neuroscience.

Siegel, D. (2007). Mindfulness training and neural integration: Differentiation of distinct streams of awareness and the cultivation of well-being. Social Cognitive and AffectiveNeuroscience, 259-263.

Daniel Siegel illuminated the science behind mindfulness with various studies, explained his concept of mindsight, and the importance of being able to integrate disparate streams of awareness or attention. He cited studies relating to the growing field of mindfulness-based stress reduction. He explained how focusing awareness can display more COAL traits: curious, openness, accepting, and loving. He also talked about the various brain regions involved in the process of mindfulness or meditation practice, especially the importance of the middle prefrontal cortex, and some other midbrain regions. He specifically described the interesting process of how people with practice in mindfulness can decouple previously intertwined neural connections when they learn to focus their attention.

This is one of the few scholarly articles by Siegel that I found in abundance online. It was a great read, but I felt like it could have been organized better. The author is much better at writing for the laymen. Good ideas, nonetheless.

Siegel, D. (2010). A Broken Brain, A Lost Soul: The Triangle of Well Being. In Mindsight: The new science of personal transformation. New York: Bantam Books.

In Mindsight chapter “A Broken Brain, A Lost Soul,” Dan Siegel explored a personal experience with a client and discussed aspects of the brain and how they function. Dr. Siegel talked about a difficult and emotional patient he had named Barbara. She was in an automobile accident and sustained damage to her frontal cortex. The result of this was a kind of emotional detachment from her family, and a lack of awareness of their internal and emotional states. Dr. Siegel had to help her and her family deal with the trauma of the event through counseling sessions, as well as help Barbara recover from her accident. However, in the end, Dr. Siegel was not able to help Barbara. The damage to her brain was too extensive. He did manage to assist the family, though. Dr. Siegel also covered the major regions in the brain and how they work and function together. He referred to the brain as the “triune” brain. It includes three parts: the brainstem, limbic regions, and cortex.

Siegel always writes for a laymen audience. He clarifies complex topics with utter lucidity. That is one of the major strengths. Siegel is known as the founder of interpersonal neurobiology, which is the school of thought dedicated to being an interdisciplinary field.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s